The warden of the Paraguayan jail where Ronaldinho and his brother are being held after being arrested for allegedly entering the country with false passports said the player is handling the situation well.
Warden Blas Vera told Reuters (via ESPN) on Monday: “In broad terms he is doing very well. I see he is in good spirits, just like you see him on television, always smiling.”
The former Brazil, Barcelona and AC Milan star and Roberto Assis, who is also his business manager, were arrested after allegedly presenting false documentation upon their arrival in Paraguayan capital Asuncion on Wednesday.
The told Paraguayan authorities the passports were handed to them as a gift as they got off the plane and that they did not knowingly commit a crime.
Wilmondes Sousa Liria, who allegedly gave them the documents, has also been jailed.
Paraguayan prosecutor Federico Delfino recommended that formal charges not be levelled against the pair—in which case they could have faced an alternative punishment, such as donating a fine to a local charity—but that recommendation was not accepted, per beIN Sports USA’s Roberto Rojas:
For reference: while Ronaldinho & Assis were initially not given any charges by the local prosecutors but after the Attorney General of Paraguay stepped in, a judge ordered them to be arrested & transported to jail. Today, we will find out if he stays as investigation continues.
— Roberto Rojas (@RobertoRojas97) March 7, 2020
Ronaldinho and Assis will put their case before a judge on Tuesday.
In the meantime, Vera said he is doing what he can to make them “as comfortable as possible” in the maximum-security facility in which they are being housed.
He told Reuters the Brazilians share a cell that contains a television and a fan, and they use a communal bathroom. They also eat food provided by their lawyers rather than the meals provided by the prison.
The pair are also said to have regular access to an outdoor space and are being held in a separate wing to the most dangerous of the 195 detainees.
Sergio Queiroz, who is representing the brothers, has offered assurances the pair are not flight risks and asked a Paraguayan court that they be released into house arrest.
Former Paraguay captain Carlos Gamarra and several other former footballers saw the 39-year-old during visiting time on Sunday.
Vera said the 2005 Ballon d’Or winner also spent time with children who were there: “There was also a group of boys and girls and he welcomed them, gave them hugs and chatted with them.”
Ronaldinho won the 1999 Copa America and the 2002 FIFA World Cup with Brazil.
In his club career, he won honours with Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Milan, Flamengo and Atletico Mineiro. Most notably, he lifted the UEFA Champions League in 2006 as part of a double with Barca.